Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) yesterday urged Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) to fulfill his promise to make native languages a mandatory course at junior-high schools or step down if he fails to do so.
“Chiang made the promise several times at legislative meetings in October last year, and was even berated by several members of the national curriculum outlines adjustment committee at a meeting on Nov. 11 for making a hasty decision before the conclusion of public deliberations on the new curriculum, as required by law,” Chen said.
Chen added that Chiang should resign if he broke his vow to make native-language courses — which are currently optional — mandatory, with classes being held at least once a week.
According to the ministry’s timeline, nine public hearings on the draft curriculum are to be held later this month. A final version is due to be published in July, one month before the 12-year national education program takes effect in August. It will officially implemented in 2018.
The 12-year program will make three years of senior-high school part of the compulsory system of education.
A member of the committee who requested anonymity said that the committee’s main task was to decide the number of class hours allocated to each course.
“There is really no way we can squeeze in an extra hour for native-language courses if we are to follow the rule of not increasing the total number of class hours,” the member said.
“The aim of the 12-year program is to put more emphasis on personalized learning, which is why we have refrained from increasing class hours for mandatory courses. Students can then have more time to choose subjects that interest them,” the member said.
Although the draft curriculum still marks native languages as an elective, it lists the mother tongues of “new immigrants” as the nation’s fourth native language other than Taiwanese (also known as Hoklo), Hakka and Aboriginal languages, the member said.
This means that children of “new immigrants” — mainly foreign spouses from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines — are now given the choice of learning their parents’ native language.
Taiwanese Mother Language League director-general Chou Ching-yu (周清玉) said she believed Chiang would honor his promise, as he risks offending many language teachers and pro-localization groups who have been closely following the issue if he does not.
When asked for comment yesterday, Chiang said he would make every effort to deliver on his pledge.